Grants/Talk Morocco

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Talk Morocco

Applicants: Jillian C. York, Hisham Khribchi
Affiliation: none
CC affiliated? No
Contact: Jillian C. York, Hisham Khribchi
Coordinator: Jillian C. York, Hisham Khribchi
Project Start: 2010/07/01
Project End: 2011/07/01
Download budget Discussion

Describe the project you are proposing as clearly as possible in just five sentences.

Talk Morocco seeks to bridge the divide between the various components of the Moroccan blogosphere, as well as the gap in viewpoints between bloggers and foreign media, by providing an outlet for emerging Moroccan voices to publish essays on important subjects. Essayists submit their writing in French, Arabic, or English; their work is then translated into English and soon, into Arabic as well. In essence, Talk Morocco provides an active platform for free and open debate on important issues relating to Morocco and the Diaspora.

Detail the tangible project output (e.g., paper, blog post, written materials, video/film, etc.; this would be in addition to the final written report that successful grant recipients will be expected to deliver to CC at the conclusion of the project).

Talk Morocco has already had great success in bringing English-language and original language content to a wide audience; our next steps are to a) hire translators to help us offer original content in Arabic and b) provide trainings for emerging and hopeful Moroccan bloggers.

In the latter capacity, we would like to present a workshop this fall in Morocco, working in the spirit of both Talk Morocco and Creative Commons, which would offer a selection of trainings for bloggers who could benefit from the resources of our project. The trainings would be provided not only by us, but by the various successful Moroccan bloggers who have contributed to our project thus far.

Describe the community you are targeting. How would the project benefit the community?

The Moroccan blogosphere, which numbers between 50 and 70 thousand, is active and vibrant. It is also young and rapidly growing. We would like to help harness the potential of young Moroccan bloggers by offering a workshop that brings them together to discuss issues--such as free speech, privacy, anonymity, and openness--as they pertain to Morocco />

What is your relationship with the community you are targeting? Why are you the best individual/organization to lead this project? Do you have prior experience in related projects?

There are few organizations working with Moroccan bloggers. Most are outsiders, such as the National Institute for Democracy. Talk Morocco is, on the other hand, by and large a Moroccan project: co-founder Hisham Khribchi, is Moroccan, as are the majority of our contributors. We are all members of the Moroccan blogosphere; some are members of the Moroccan Bloggers Association. We are a young, grassroots project, with one strong advantage: support from a wide swath of the Moroccan blogosphere.

Several of our bloggers, such as Rachid Jankari, have significant experience leading blogger workshops in and outside of Morocco, and Hisham and myself have both led, and benefited from, workshops at events such as the Arabloggers Workshop in Beirut and the Global Voices Summit. Our network of bloggers encompasses some of Morocco's leading bloggers and emerging journalists. We also plan to reach out to veteran leaders in this sphere such as Sami Ben Gharbia.

How will you measure and evaluate your project’s impact - on your main participants? Other contributors? On the larger community?

As our request is twofold; so will be our evaluations.

In terms of translation, we feel that Talk Morocco's Arabic experiment will be best measured by site analytics; visitors, inbound links, and so forth. The benefits on the outside community could be enormous. We realize that knowledge of Morocco's unique situation amongst the rest of the Arab world is low; translation of original French and English essays into Arabic will provide readers with a broader understanding of the issues young Moroccans face, and allow for readers to better connect with the Moroccan blogosphere. The benefit on our internal community (the essayists) is more tangible; those who write in French will benefit from wider readership and networking with Arabic-speaking bloggers whom they have otherwise been unable to reach.

It is our hope that the workshop will be open and transparent, allowing participants to take great part in the planning and implementation of the program, such as to avoid disappointments. We will, of course, follow up with an anonymous survey about the event.

How many participants do you expect to be involved in your project? How will you seek and sustain their involvement?

The translation project will require the help of 2-3 translators, who will each month assist with translation of 5-10 essays into Arabic. We realize that paying them for full-time work is not sustainable, however, through assistance from funders and donations (which we currently do receive), we would like to provide them with a small honorarium.

The workshop we propose would be modest, with invitations open to 30-40 Moroccan bloggers residing across Morocco. We hope that, by bringing young emerging bloggers together for an organized program, we will be able to form and sustain stronger links within the blogging community.

Describe how your project will benefit Creative Commons' mission to increase the amount of creativity (cultural, educational, and scientific content) in "the commons".

Thus far, all Talk Morocco essays have been published under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported. We recognize that there is currently minimal awareness of Creative Commons within Morocco, thus part of our hope is to provide greater awareness of Creative Commons to workshop participants and the blogosphere at large.

We plan to continue issuing all essays under a Creative Commons license.

Describe what technologies and tools your project will use. What kinds of technical skills and expertise do you bring to the project? What are your technical needs?

Our site utilizes a Wordpress installation currently. Hisham is an experienced designer, and both of us have ample experience with blogging and basic CSS. We would benefit from technical help in two areas: Translation technology (e.g., translation project management), and assistance with specific trainings at the proposed workshop (e.g., SEO, Wordpress installation, and other blogger tools).

What challenges do you expect to face, and how do you plan to overcome them?

We both realize that a lot of work goes into planning and executing a successful large-scale workshop, but we have an ample support network and assistance from more experienced leaders in this field. Though we hope to be as self-sufficient as possible, to provide a unique experience to our participants, we are able to rely on our networks for help where needed.

How do you plan to sustain your project after the Creative Commons funding has ended? Detail specific plans. How do you plan to raise revenue to continue your efforts in the future?

As the proposed workshop can potentially stand alone, future revenue is desirable, but not necessary.

In terms of the translation project, we currently rely on donations, which allow us to pay small honorariums to translators. In the future, we hope to create a stronger volunteer network of translators to whom we will be able to offer smaller, less resource-heavy incentives.

How can this project be scalable, or have a scalable impact?

We believe that our open platform for discussion, Talk Morocco, is absolutely scalable to other blogging environments. We have had interest from bloggers in both Syria and Ghana to start similar projects, and are currently working with them to do so.

What resources and support do you expect Creative Commons to provide to your project to ensure its success (if any)?

We would love to have someone from Creative Commons to provide a training at the proposed workshop.

Describe how your organization currently communicates with its community members and network partners. (100 words)

We currently utilize Google Groups to communicate with our members; we have an active, unmoderated list to which participants contribute.